HYSTERIC GLAMOUR x EMPTY R _ _ M
INTERVIEW WITH NOBUHIKO KITAMURA FROM HYSTERIC GLAMOUR
Born / 19th December, 1962 in Setagaya, Tokyo
1984 HYSTERIC GLAMOUR founded
I'd like to start by asking you about how HYSTERIC GLAMOUR began.
I went to a fashion school of “ TOKYO MODE GAKUEN “ ( Fashion College ) and started HYSTERIC GLAMOUR in 1984.
When I was a student, after graduating from high school, We usually study at college for four full years. As I wanted to graduate early, I went to school for three years in total, taking both daytime and evening classes together from my second year.
During my last year I was studying clothing making, but I needed money to buy music records and other items so I got a couple of part time jobs.
One of my friends from high school had already started working for show production company which was specialized in organizing shows, styling and displays for Kansai Yamamoto. so I got a part-time job offer from there.
Another friend of mine from college was working as a salesperson at Ozone Community- the company which is now the parent company of HYS, and the designer there was looking for someone who could help with designing.
So I started working as a part-timer for about an year or so and I was getting paid around 2k yen per design, and 3k yen per design of colour schemes.
I was creating approximately 20-30 designs a month while I was also work in part-time as a show director. During the seasons of the shows I used to make around 200,000 yen, so I was pretty well off for a 20 year old!
By that time I spent a lot of my money for records and music.
When I was about to graduate, I had to start looking for a full time job and I actually almost got a job offer at my initial company with directing shows, but then someone from the Ozone community asked me if I would be interested in starting a new brand.
Some of my designs for the part time job at " Ozone Community" have been successful it seemed, and the designer at Ozone stated, "Nobu is interesting, why don't you try to a start your own brand?
At first I thought I could make a living working part-time after school, but Ozone Community was the company I'd been working at for an year, so I thought I'd give it a try. and I joined Ozone Community from June 1984.
Later on I started thinking about the brand name and the concept, and by the end of July 1984 we had our first Hyesteric Glamour's exhibition.
During this expo the editor-in-chief of Olive magazine came to visit us on the first day and honestly I didn't know who he was at first. After I checked with my colleagues, I found out that he was the editor-in-chief of Olive magazine.
By that time, I had zero experience myself and this was my first exhibition with my own items, made in a rush for less than 2 months. However, later in the same evening Olive's editor called me and said, "We are going to have a press conference. I'm going to Paris tomorrow for a photoshoot, can I borrow some samples? I thought, "Why not? I thought there was no reason to refuse, so I lent him all the main pieces, and from the second day of the exhibition I only showed pictures of the items sent to Paris. I got scolded by various shops. and after then, I got a lot of enquiries. People who had already visited the exhibition got in touch and wanted to see the clothes again. This is how the orders started increasing. It's all gone really well since we first started the brand. The tin robot stadium jackets and aloha shirt were really popular, and we were happy to sell 100 tin stadium jackets at first, then we added more and sold nearly 1000 pieces.
Could you tell us about the origins of the brand name- HYSTERIC GLAMOUR?
After I joined Ozone Community company I have been told to chose a brand name myself.
I started looking among a lot of dictionaries and wrote down a lot of words that I found relevant.
I didn't know how to say the word HYSTERIC in Japanese, and I didn't know how to say GLAMOUR. So I thought it would be hard to find a woman who was HYSTERIC and GLAMOUR . So I thought that I could attack the atmosphere of the brand in a HYSTERIC way and also in a GLAMOUR way. I liked musicians and rock music in particular, so I imagined the hysterical stage of PATTI SMITH, or the glamour of Blondie's Deborah Harry, and I thought HYSTERIC GLAMOUR would be good, and that's how I decided which name to incorporate in the idea.
At first, the Ozone community wanted me to do mainly women's wear but I thought it could be a bit unisex, so I started a brand with more of an unisex feeling, but under a women's name. When I was working as a part-time show director, there were designers who had their own taste, but there were also designers who were always saying different things, and I started getting in doubt. So, when I was about to start working on HYSTERIC GLAMOUR, I got a book on the DIOR archive and a book called ART OF ROCK and I went through. After analyzing Dior’s book first, I’ve realized that Kawakubo-san (COMME DES GARCONS) and Yohji-san (YOHJI YAMAMOTO) were influenced by DIOR. That's when I realized that everyone is influenced in some way by what they like. So I thought, I like ART OF ROCK more, not DIOR and decided to pursued what I liked, so I might be able to do it forever. Now when I think about it I can tell that since I was a student I always used to like vintage items more than contemporary brands. Of course, I also wore TAKEO KIKUCHI's MEN'S BIGI and COMME DES GARCONS HOMME but when I was a student, everyone wore their favorite brand new clothes to school first, and I didn't like the idea of wearing the same clothes as those guys. I wanted to go in a different direction, so I went to vintage shops and looked for one-off vintage pieces and wore them. I didn't wear them when going to school and everyone wanted them. So I thought, "This is the direction I want to go. I thought it would be more interesting to pursue that kind of culture and items which I really like.
When you design, where do you get the inspiration from?
I get inspired from things that I like.
For example, music, vintage clothes, films, art, pornography and white trash culture I also like Andy Warhol, so I would parody mass-produced things in a different way.
Four or five years after I started HYS, street brands started arriving in Japan, and then a little later the " Urahara " culture started, but in 1984 there were no brands with the similar feeling as HYS. In 1984, brands such as Garçon, Yohji, Issey, TAKEO KIKUCHI's Men's BIGI were in their heyday, and it was common to see brands and designers who were doing collections, having a theme for the season, and doing PFW or TFW. They seemed to have a theme for each season. But I didn't have the confidence to run a brand in that way, so I thought it would be nice to have at least one brand representing different concept.
1986年 S/S 通販カタログ 表紙
1986年 A/W 通販カタログ 表紙
You've done a lot of collaborations in the past, Could you tell us about some of the more memorable ones?
The first collaboration was with SONIC YOUTH. I knew a photographer in Japan who often got photoshoots with musicians, and when SONIC YOUTH came to Japan I asked him directly to do a photoshoot with HYS.
I got a day off to do the photoshoot, The photographer didn't get paid from me anything and asked me to design his next tour tee in return.
Later on, I collaborated with IGGY POP.
One day, he sent me his favorite pair of jeans and asked me to make him some denim in the same size, so I made him some. We also did a collaboration with the MC5 as they were getting back together. It was the first time we got a band in our collaboration. Then someone saw the MC5 t-shirts and offered me to do similar for THE ROLLING STONES.
We know that HYSTERIC GLAMOUR has many fans among celebrities. Is there any episode that surprised you?
When the painter FRANCESCO CLEMENTE had his first solo exhibition in Japan, I was introduced to him by a friend. His wife told me then, "Are you Mr. HYSTERIC, I've been to your shop many times. She's an art curator and she used to come to Tokyo a lot and stopping by my shop often. And she said to me, "KEITH asked me to buy HYS when I go to Tokyo, and I used to go to your shop to run errands for him. "
So I asked him who he meant by KEITH and she said KEITH HARING. Later on I was introduced to a guy from the ROBERT MEPPLETHORPE foundation, who happened to be KEITH HARING's ex-manager. I was surprised to hear from him that KEITH loved HYS and had a big collection at his place. If we had known each other back then, we could have bartered.
Also, when the members of SOUL II SOUL came to Japan from London, they bought some robot-printed underwears. Michael from GIVE ME FIVE, who was a good friends with them one day saw my designs of underwear and liked them very much. When he came to Tokyo, he asked me if I wanted to open a HYS shop in the UK? So, I opened a shop in London back in 1993.
When PRIMAL SCREAM came to Japan, the members bought a lot of HYS and introduced us to a magazine.
MARK LEBON 「true life 2f2 MARK LEBON LONDON (WEST)1992-3」より
HYSTERIC GLAMOUR is known for its iconic female characters, how did this come about?
When I started the brand in 1984, there was a girl who was selling in the Ozone community shop in Kyushu at that time. She came to Tokyo to focus on PR for HYS as she wanted to support the brand. 3 or 4 years later, she left HYS to go to New York, which was her dream. and Then, she found a sponsor for HYS and opened a small shop in the East Village. IGGY and KIM GORDON used to go there.
There was a boy called Stefan who used to go to my shop in New York and he was coming to Tokyo to work as a model, but he was also a graphic artist Stefan brought his portfolio to HYS and said he wanted to work with us and that he would do some interesting graphics. He started working with us from the next day. So this is how Stefan have not worked at all as a model for those 2 months in Japan but he worked for HYS instead and he is still drawing girls for HYS.
Are there any people who have influenced you?
This is really hard question. I started HYS when I was 21 years old. Back then I was reading Andy Warhol's autobiography and there were a lot of hints in there.
And I also had my favorite bands and musicians at different stages of life and I would get ideas from them as well. For example, PATTI SMITH, SONIC YOUTH, KURT COBAIN, COURTNEY LOVE, PRIMAL SCREAM.
How do you think HYSTERIC GLAMOUR has become this huge?
It's all about friends and connections I think. Nowadays, we have tools like INSTAGRAM and FACEBOOK, so we can get in touch easily even if we are far apart. We can see how people are spending the days, but in the past, we didn't have those tools, and international phone calls were quite expensive.
I used to play with foreigners all the time from '85 to '90, and when I was talking to foreigners, I would talk about politics, music, art. In that way I could get more ideas for T-shirts from them.
T-shirts always have a message on them, so I thought it would be useless if foreign people couldn't understand what we were saying. So I started thinking it would be better to learn English. I lived with a couple of foreign friends for approximately five years as I considered this to be the fastest way to learn English. Actually the connections I made during this period led to get a lot of things later on. Also, I was featured in a lot of magazines and many new singers at that time wore my clothes. Also, " Urahara " culture was mainly men's, but HYS was women's and unisex, so we were able to belong to the same era without being concurrence. So we didn't have any rival brands to opposite to, which was good for HYS.
Is there anyone among the designers now that you could be interested in?
After Jonio (UNDERCOVER) and Nakano (SKOLOCT) came to the fore, the generation after myself started to become more and more interesting. HYS became famous at the end of the DC era, and back in the 90s, when street brands started to appear, HYS finally became established and I started to think that this style was possible. Jonio's work with UNDERCOVER at Paris Collection is highly recognizable around the world, and I think that the traditional way of thinking and values of fashion brands have changed since I started working with HYS. For example, military jackets were only available for men before I started making them for women.
Do you have a favourite designer?
I like Kawakubo-san (COMME DES GARCONS), Jonio (UNDERCOVER), and when I was a student I liked Men's BIGI. I also like the brands of my friends and juniors. Ohana (N.HOLLYWOOD) and Miyashita (TAKAHIRO MIYASHITA THE SOLOIST).
I don't mind making clothes, but it's a hassle to think about what I want to wear this year and what shoes I want to wear today. I thought it would be better to be on the making side rather than the wearing side. I have five identical shirts and two pairs of shoes. I usually dress for summer and winter. But when I want something, I look for it, and when I buy more t-shirts, I don't just buy any t-shirt, I have a particular size.
What do you think about fashion trends in Japan recently?
I think that the values and the way of thinking about clothes have completely changed. People don't only wear street clothes because it's street, some people don't care about brands, and some people pick up limited edition items on the internet rather than buying them in shops. I don't think there are any new brands that do a total collection. I think we are living in a world where, depending on how you show it and how you express it, even if it's something very simple, if you add value to it, it can spread. I also think the influence of Instagram is very strong in this way of marketing. It's interesting that independent brands and projects are so relevant nowadays.
What is your favourite music nowadays?
Lately I like Korean music. I listen a lot of Korean 70's psychedelic, disco and new wave music. Especially I like "SANULLIM", "KIM JIYEON", "KIM JUNG MI", "SHIN JOONGHYUN”.
What are your plans for the future?
I'd like to do a lot of independent stuff like I did when I started HYS, collaborations with HYSTERIC GLAMOUR tend to get overshadowed by the colours of HYS, so I'd like to do projects that don't carry the HYSTERIC GLAMOUR sign, but still have my own stamp on them. I would like to do my own project. I do not want to make a lot of products, I want to do a limited number of handmade products, I want to sell them in a limited number of shops, not in HYS shops. It would be nice to have a small group of people who really understand what we do. It is not necessary for the collaborators to have the same taste as HYS. I think it can be applied to many things.
HYSTERIC GLAMOUR CAMPAIGN AD 2000年
PHOTO BY TERRY RICHARDSON
HYSTERIC GLAMOUR CAMPAIGN AD 2006年
PHOTO BY TERRY RICHARDSON
HYSTERIC GLAMOUR CAMPAIGN AD 2014年
PHOTO BY KENNETH CAPPELLO